Venice film festival short on Oscar contenders: ‘Birdman,’ …?

The 71st annual edition of the Venice film festival unspools from Aug. 27 through Sept. 6. The prestigious opening night slot in the competition goes to “Birdman,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s highly anticipated examination of an aging action star (Michael Keaton) looking to jumpstart his flagging movie career by starring in a Broadway play. This hot Oscar prospect will close the New York film festival on Oct. 12, five days before it opens commercially. 

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Of the other 19 films competing for the Golden Lion, three could make last-minute entries into this year’s derby if they can secure distribution in time. 

Andrew Nicoll‘s “Good Kill,” in which a drone operator (Ethan Hawke) reaches his breaking point, 

David Gordon Green’s “Manglehorn,” with Oscar champ Al Pacino as a lovelorn locksmith; and

Ramin Bahrani’s “99 Homes,” an indictment of the housing bubble with Andrew Garfield.  

And among the 35 films screening out of competition are a pair that have awards potential, again pending on distribution.

Barry Levinson‘s “The Humbling,” an adaptation of a Phillip Roth character study about an aging actor (Pacino) and his surprising affair with a woman half his age (Greta Gerwig). 

Peter Bogdanovich‘s “She’s Funny That Way,” a comedy of manners about the backstage antics of the cast and creative types of a Broadway play, with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson.  

The Lido screenings of 55 films overlap with two other prime showcases for Oscar contenders: the exclusive Telluride filmfest, which kicks off its four-day event focusing on just a few titles on Aug. 29, and the expansive Toronto filmfest, which begins its 10-day marathon of more than 300 titles on Sept. 4. 

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